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HOW DO WE SPEAK FOR THOSE WHO ARE DEAD AND CANNOT SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES? KINSHIP LAW DILEMMAS; VICTIMS OF THE HOLOCAUST V. ALLIANZ

20
Jan

By Jason Stern

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By conservative accounts it is estimated that more than 75 million people were murdered during World War II. At least 40 million were civilians. More than 6 million of these civilian deaths were the carefully orchestrated result of Nazi death camps, also known as concentration camps.

Infamous places such as Auschwitz where more than 1,100,000 people were murdered, Treblinka which claimed 800,000 lives and Belzec where another 600,000 perished at the hands of Zyklon B gas chambers. Zyklon B gas was an effective means of murdering large groups of people efficiently and without inflicting the psychological toll on Nazi troops that mass shootings had.

Throughout the Nuremberg Trials that ensued after the war, damning evidence was presented which included Himmler’s own personal journals. Within these accounts, Himmler was unavailable at trial after swallowing cyanide capsules upon his capture, contained detailed evidence of the toll and challenges presented by the mass murders within these death camps. Himmler himself cites the pleas from his generals requesting alternatives to the shooting of innocent women and children that had been causing long-term psychological trauma on their soldiers.

Of course this begs the next question, disposal. In Auschwitz alone, the death chambers were running night and day creating 4,400 corpses daily. The Nazi solution was to construct huge crematoria housing 46 ovens to meet the ever-increasing demands of the camp and prevent dysentery.

Madness to their methods and how we know this

We know all this from the eyewitness accounts of Nazi soldiers themselves who worked these camps, the victims who survived and the brave members of the allied forces who witnessed these atrocities first hand while liberating these camps at the end of the war. While these painful first hand accounts are clear and convincing evidence for most some remain skeptical. For those I suggest looking at the camp records meticulously created and retained by the Nazi’s themselves. The Nazi’s were extraordinarily detailed oriented; ironically keeping impeccable intake records of any and all that passed through their death camps. As illustrated in the Auschwitz intake sheet below, each victim was chronicled and indexed by age, ethnicity, name, origin, weight, appearance, vocation and lineage. Once methodically registered each victim was issued a number, relieved of their clothing, belongings and either killed or placed on a work detail.

The Nazi regime never intended on losing the war but knew if they did, the international community would not look upon these crimes against humanity favorably. Unfortunately for their victims, as meticulous as the Nazi’s record keeping was it was no surprise that not a single death certificate was issued for any man, woman or child murdered in these death camps. As these records would surely be used against them later in military tribunals.

Are the 6 million people who died in the holocaust legally alive?

Common sense and reason dictate that if one was seen or recorded entering a death camp and did not come out it is safe to say they were murdered. As a NY estate lawyer I do not need to see an original death certificate to know that these souls are no longer among the living. However, this is the billion-dollar argument still being waged today by insurance companies such as Allianz, Generali and AXA. Each of these companies wrote life insurance policies, insuring the lives of many of the millions of victims who perished in the death camps, most of them Jews. Today, some 70 years after the worst crimes against humanity were perpetrated in recorded history companies like Allianz, Genrali and AXA continue to withhold billions of dollars from the rightful claimants of their life insurance policies who perished under horrific circumstances.

The strange part about dying in a war crime is there is rarely any certified record of it. As such these companies’ sole argument today is that they are withholding the paying out of claims pending the issuance of original certified death certificates and delivery of original life insurance policies for holocaust victims.

Law without reason is tyranny. These companies have abandoned any sense of fair play, relying instead on legal technicalities thereby embezzling billions of dollars of stolen property over to themselves. To deny the relatives of the 6 million victims who died in the most demeaning way possible their rightful claims as beneficiaries is nothing short of criminal. To deny their deaths in the face of overwhelming evidence compiled by groups such as Yad Vashem is to abandon reason for lunacy, and to abandon humanity for greed.

Disproving a negative?

As one of only a few experienced NY holocaust kinship lawyers in the world handling highly complicated international kinship cases this is always a concern. By far my most daunting challenge as a NY kinship attorney is proving descendants related to holocaust victims perished while knowing death records will not be readily available to us. These are always emotionally charged cases requiring creative solutions and intense genealogical research. As kinship lawyers we are asked to recreate family trees using sophisticated and not so sophisticated genealogical evidence while representing heirs from all parts of the world.

The question becomes how do you establish kinship without death certificates. That is where we as NY kinship lawyers rely heavily on and call upon the veracity of recreated records compiled by quasi-governmental institutions such as Yad Vashem. Yad Vashem is an organization enacted by the Israeli Parliament in 1953 charged with documenting the history of those who perished in the holocaust. This task involves the recreation and “preserving the memory and story of each of the six million victims”. By carefully chronicling the accounts and testimony of eyewitnesses and through extensive document research and recreation they have successfully created a database of most of the victims they set out to memorialize.

Unfortunately Yad Vashem is unable to issue actual certified death certificates for the dead as the country of origin can only issue such records. Courts will however take judicial notice of the Yad Vashem records, as they are both relevant and reliable sources of information in both proving and disproving facts in issue. Without such records a kinship lawyer would be unable to retrieve countless sums of money for heirs of holocaust victims.

As a NY estate lawyer, I think it is within reason that if we have evidence from Yad Vashem or another reliable source that someone entered a death camp and did not come out they perished, hence the term death camp. For companies such as Allianz, Genrali, AXA and even some court personnel to deny this fact is nothing short of criminal. There are no cemetery records because their bodies were incinerated; we have no death certificates because their governments remain unwilling to provide them. Interestingly the families of Axis soldiers whose bodies were never recovered were issued death certificates by their governments while their victims were not.

The families of holocaust victims have gone through one of the worst atrocities in recorded history and for us to question the validity of their claims is to make them relive that past all over again.

If you or a loved one would like to speak with a NY kinship lawyer about a matter please feel free to call The Law Offices of Jason W. Stern & Associates at (718) 261-2444. Our offices have represented families on 6 continents recreate their family tree and recover countless unclaimed sums of moneys withheld by the State.